Unlike England and Wales, pre-application consultation in Scotland is a statutory requirement for major and national projects.
Proposals for a 7 turbine windfarm at Kilrubie fell into this category and Pegasus Group were tasked with delivering the consultation. It was clear that the proposal would be seen as yet another wind farm application in an area where there had already been a large number of applications, some of which had yet to be determined.
The consultation was split into two stages. Stage one focused on ‘getting the approach to consultation right’ through pre-engagement with local Community Councils and Elected Members. Through a local workshop, community representatives considered the geographical extent of a consultation zone and provided local knowledge on ways to best publicise the pre-application consultation in the local area. This information was then used as the basis for the consultation, which included wide distribution of freepost information leaflets, a website and a public exhibition.
The exhibition took place over two days, one being close to the site and the other in the nearby town centre. Many of those who attended the workshops helped with raising awareness of the event, displaying posters, providing links between their website and the project website and cascading electronic copies of the information leaflet through their organisational networks. In addition personal visits were made to those living closest to the scheme.
The consultation was recognised as being far reaching and inclusive. The project website was regularly updated and local people kept informed. Although the scheme did not ultimately go forward. Credit was given by the local community for the quality of the consultation undertaken.